Sinners and Sufferers
Therefore, since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, let us
hold firmly to the faith we profess . . . Every high priest is selected from among the people. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray,
since he himself is subject to weakness.
—Hebrews 4:14 & 5:1–2 (NIV, abbreviated)
QUINN G. CALDWELL | The author of Hebrews says one of the most important qualifi- cations for a high priest is to be a sinner and a sufferer who knows he’s a sinner and a suf- ferer. Neither holiness, nor learnedness, nor wisdom are the most important; an awareness of your own weakness and folly is the thing.
And here’s the real kicker: the High Priest must not only know they’re a sinner and a suf- ferer, they must let this information make them kinder. That’s some next-level religioning right there. I mean, any-old-body can sin and be forgiven, or be hurt and then healed, or go through hell and get stronger, and then be nasty and holier-than-thou about it: The ex-smoker who rolls their eyes at how gross smokers are. The newly-out person who’s im- patient and judgy with those who are in the closet. The person who’s paid off their student loans and doesn’t want anybody else’s forgiven. But to move beyond a sin or suffering or struggle and have compassion for those still in in its midst? Oof.
This is what the author of Hebrews says: the most respected religious leaders, of whom Jesus is the very best, are like this: They know the world is hard. They’ve seen some things; they’ve done some things; they have some regrets and some pain. They admit it. And they still haven’t become jerks.
PRAYER God, don’t let what I’ve done, what I’ve been, what I’ve confessed, and what I’ve overcome make me hard; let it make me as soft as a savior on a cross. Amen.

About the Writer:
QUINN G. CALDWELL is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. He is the author of All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.